As per Wikipedia (and this is a reasonably accurate definition as recalled from my philosophy classes):
In the law, a proximate cause is an event sufficiently related to a legally recognizable injury to be held the cause of that injury. There are two elements needed to determine proximate cause: the activity must produce a foreseeable risk, and the injury must be caused directly by the defendant's negligence. There may be more than one proximate cause of an injury or event.
Foreseeable risk. To my mind, given the previous four Bush years, this certainly includes, but is not limited to, increasing the powers and extent of the PATRIOT (Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism) Act, espousing of faith-based policy initiatives that favor one religious methodology over another, continued lack of bipartisan conciliation and mediation, and ongoing conflict in the Middle East.
So, Bush is elected.
When I voted for Kerry, I knew full well that if he had won, I'd likely have some mighty hard stuff to answer for, and I'd have to be honest when people said "Well, YOU voted for him." I'd have to say "Yes, I did. And right now, he's doing something that I don't approve of, and I take responsibility for my own part in that." I'd then write him, write my officials, donate money to lobbying organizations, and do everything I could to get whatever action it was changed, but I'd have to accept my portion of accountability and perhaps a certain amount of regret for putting him in a position of power to take the action to begin with.
In a worst-case scenario, I'd have to take part in impeaching someone I had helped elect. Now before anyone comes at me saying I am being too rigid and inflexible in my interpretation of proximate cause, let me say that I understand. I know only too well that all too often, there's no clearly good option between two candidates these days. Most people come down to voting for what they perceive as the lesser of two evils. Nevertheless, despite the fact that it's what you've got to work with, voters still bear responsibility for that perception, and the vote that resulted from it.
All I ask now is that those who supported Bush, who voted for him, have the grace, maturity, and decency to do the same thing. Clinton supporters who had any backbone had to admit that Gennifer Flowers, Paula Jones, and Kathleen Willey supplied enough information to make the former president's philandering certainly proximate cause for those who voted for him. They knew it was a risk. Given an honest examination of the record of evidence, it is clear that the Lewinsky incident was foreseeable.
I'm not meaning to make anyone feel attacked (I'm really not) or play the blame game, but only intend to remind all participants that it's simply fair and just for all of us to understand the risks as well as the benefits of a given decision, and be honest when faced with the need to fix the things that come up. As I said before, it is in our own best interest to make the most informed, educated choice possible, and to execute that action with gravity and dignity. One of the primary reasons it is in our own best interest is so that it comes back to bite us in our bottoms as little as possible.
Unfortunately for the country, I think the majority's bottoms are going to ache a good bit from all the biting. I hope I'm wrong.
In other words, I'm claiming full rights to say "I told you so" when Bush does something predictable (based on past action) that hacks moderate conservatives off, and I'd better hear from them that they accept a portion of responsibility, and a degree of ownership, for the consequences that resulted from their decision to vote for him. I think the 49% is entitled to acknowledgement from the 51% for that, given that his actions affect us, too. When I hear someone that I know voted for Bush fussing about him in the next four years, I might just have to print out a copy of this post and hand it to them.
Unfortunately for the country, I think I could be handing out a lot of copies. Once again, I hope I'm wrong.
/end mildly arrogant and pompous former philosophy geek political analysis ;)